How to choose the right sources of sugar

Sugar is absolutely essential to life. Our brain, for example, depends almost exclusively on this source of energy to function properly and it alone consumes a good part of the sugar contained in what we eat daily.

The different types of sugars

There are three main types of dietary sugars, called carbohydrates:

– simple sugars, such as those in fruit or honey,

– starches, formed by the assembly of several sugar molecules. Starch is found in cereals, potatoes and some vegetables. Generally, the sugar that is present in a food in the form of starch is digested more slowly than simple sugars.

– dietary fiber, which is found only in plant products such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. These fibers are so complex that our stomach is unable to digest them, and it is only thanks to the bacteria present in the intestine that we manage to extract their sugar content.

In other words, the sources of carbohydrates are numerous in nature and it is not because a food does not taste sweet that it does not contain sugar.

What is the difference between sugars and their effect on health

The main difference between the different types of carbohydrates is how quickly the sugar they contain gets into the blood.

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In the case of simple sugars, they are quickly assimilated and force our pancreas to react very quickly and secrete a lot of insulin to absorb them. On the other hand, in the case of dietary fibers or complex starches, our intestine breaks down these sugars much more slowly, which causes the gradual appearance of sugar in the blood and the production of lower quantities of insulin.

These differences are important because when the pancreas has to produce large amounts of insulin too often (as with simple sugars), it tends to become exhausted over time, increasing the risk of diabetes.

It is therefore preferable to preferentially consume complex sugars, such as starches or fibres.

Sucrose, dextrose, glucose, fructose: read labels and avoid these products

The simple sugars in our diet often come from sugar added to various commercial products.

This added sugar is far from negligible, they represent more than 10% of the calories consumed, or the equivalent of 60 grams (12 teaspoons) of sugar per day! This excess sugar is sometimes difficult to detect, because the industry uses several sources of sugar to make its food products.

But make no mistake: if a product label says terms like sucrose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose-fructose, etc., all those names mean one thing. : sugar has been added to the product. And the more it appears among

the first ingredients, the more the product contains.

Food strategy to avoid excess sugar

A good healthy eating strategy therefore consists of encouraging the consumption of complex sugars as much as possible and reducing that of simple sugars.

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A few tips :

– Drink water rather than sugary drinks and especially try to avoid soft drinks such as sodas. These drinks contain astronomical amounts of sugar, and several recent studies indicate that their consumption plays a major role in the epidemic of obesity which currently affects the population. Even 100% fruit juices should be consumed in moderation (about one glass per day maximum), as they contain a lot of simple sugars.

– Pay particular attention to breakfast cereals if you take them or give them to your children. Most cereals contain far too many simple sugars and not enough complex sugars in the form of fiber. Ideally, a good cereal should contain 2 grams of fiber per serving.

– Beware of certain products that are sold with the label “low in fat”: some of them contain impressive amounts of sugar.


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